CEDAR RAPIDS — In anticipation of their debut season in the semipro United Premier Soccer League, the expansion Cedar Rapids Inferno welcomed 60 prospective players during two days of March tryouts.
All are still with the team.
“I was very impressed with the guys,” Inferno Owner/Coach Kenan Malicevic said. “It was very competitive soccer. It was very clean soccer. … It was some great, creative ideas and some fantastic touches that I was very pleased to see considering these guys haven’t gotten the chance to play with each other. … The effort was great. The attitude was fantastic. I couldn’t be happier.”
The UPSL Spring schedule begins April 27 for Cedar Rapids with a home game against Union Dubuque F.C. While Malicevic has given all tryout participants every opportunity to earn a spot with the club, he views April 15 as the approximate date to trim the roster to 35 or 40 players. The UPSL does not limit the number of players on a team roster.
“I just want the guys to get comfortable with each other,” said Malicevic, who played soccer at Cedar Rapids Washington, Cedar Valley Christian and Drake. “To realize that we are here as a team. … I want the guys' chemistry to grow each and every practice and we celebrate each other’s success. That is my main goal here and I just need them to realize that we are in this together, win or lose, no matter what.”
One player who has stood out during early practices is Gabe Christianson, the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011 at Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Christianson exhausted his college eligibility at Southern Illinois last year, a career that was interrupted for two years due to a broken leg.
“Kenan is somebody who is very passionate about the game,” Christianson said. “He is somebody who understands the game very, very well and I am excited to see how his passion really correlates into the team. I really found out about the team really, there was just kind of buzz around Cedar Rapids within the soccer community and then I played pickup with Kenan a couple of times and just seeing who he is as a player and how that would translate as a coach, I am very excited by that.”
In addition to running practices and evaluating the roster, Malicevic continues to seek club sponsors and a home field for the 2019 season. Kingston Stadium is not available due to stadium renovations that will begin May 1.
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“We ran into a couple of complications as far as the fields go,” Malicevic said. “We are currently still waiting to hear as far as a couple of options go.”
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